Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen quite a few players from the junior sides at Everton make their way to the senior squad. The cupboard is pretty stocked at certain positions, with players like Tom Davies, Kieran Dowell, Tyias Browning, Brendan Galloway, Matthew Pennington and Mason Holgate all making their mark in various ways.
With that in mind, we asked the writers here at Royal Blue Mersey - Which young player(s) is/are going to make the jump this year?
Sean - I think this is the season that Mason Holgate will break into the first team picture.
He’s featured in the team in pre-season so far, and was very impressive in the draw with Manchester United, especially considering he was up against Ibrahimovic.
I think a 3-5-2 formation would help get the best out of him. It gives him the security to play football and develop with the added defensive security of the more experienced two alongside him.
Mike - I'll second Sean on Holgate, and add in Galloway, and Davies. Galloway you could argue already made the jump based on last year, but he's still only 20, and with his versatility coupled with Everton's lack of depth, he should get chances.
Davies has looked good in cameos and is a natural fit to spell Barkley either as an attacking mid, or slightly deeper.
Brian - I'm going to be a pessimist and say no one makes the jump. Maybe it is just a condition of hearing how great the academy is, but previous top youngsters haven't really lived up to their promise. Our best work seems to be buying almost-ready players like Seamus Coleman and John Stones and giving them the polish to make the final step.
The list of players panning out is basically Wayne Rooney, Ross Barkley, and Jack Rodwell. That's not great. Now I am hoping at least one youngster is able to get some time here and there to further his development and I think that comes down to Mason Holgate, Tom Davies, and Brendan Galloway. Those are the 3 to watch and if anyone is going to make the jump it will be them, don't expect it though.
Tom - Tom Davies has progressed rapidly over the past six months to the extent where he is now considered a member of the first-team squad. Injury to Muhamed Besic may also offer him a further opportunity to make an impression on the side in the first few months of the season. He certainly hasn't looked overawed in the games I've seen him play so far so is definitely one to watch.
Ryan - I'm staking my hopes on Tom Davies, academy graduate recently signed to a five-year extension. Ronald Koeman seems to have him in his plans as he has been with the first team throughout preseason, training and playing in matches. Everton have a lot of options in midfield but the position has been in a constant state of flux over the past couple of years due to under-performance and injuries. Davies is said to be full of potential and with nothing to lose, the new boss may feel free to give him the opportunity to learn and grow over the course of this season.
Matt - I'm looking at Shani Tarashaj to have a breakout year. I don't think he's going to start out the year with any sort of significant minutes, but I believe that Koeman will find out just how unreliable Arouna Kone is and this could open up a spot for Tarashaj. I expect him to get some minutes in early cup matches and if he shows his worth he could see a more significant role as the year progresses.
Adam - At 18, Tom Davies may be among the youngest players in this conversation, but he showed at the end of last season that he may well be ready for a more significant role with the first team. The signing of Gueye added a little more depth in the center of the pitch, but the subsequent injury to Besic set the team back in terms of available players at the position.
Davies looks as though he can play in a more withdrawn midfield role, provided he is paired with a defensive-minded player like Gareth Barry or Idrissa Gueye. However, he is probably better equipped to play a more advanced central midfield role, where the team has Barkley but little else.
With the departure of Osman and the team's lack of attacking signings, there is going to be a need for depth at the No. 10 after Barkley, and Davies may be just that. The youngster, though still a little raw, displayed impressive vision, passing, and effort in his limited appearances at the end of last season. Koeman would do well to give Davies a few shots in early cup rounds this season, but to understand his full potential, the midfielder will need more than that. When appropriate this season, Koeman should give Davies a few chances to play alongside the likes of Lukaku, Deulofeu, and Mirallas -- if he can make it happen with those players, he's going to have a very bright future with Everton.
Calvin - Just to be contrary, I am going to pick Kieran Dowell. The kid has an eye for goal, if nothing else. Last season showed quite starkly that when Lukaku fails to fire, the goals are not forthcoming from any of the other players. Enter Dowell, who was banging them in from all over the park.
Understandably that was in the juniors, but the kid has the instinct that should give him an edge. While I’m not saying that he can turn into this season’s Delle Alli, I would put a fiver on him to nick a few given some playing minutes on the senior squad.
Weigh in with your opinions as well in the comments below, we’d like to hear what your thoughts are on Everton’s weakest position right now.
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